A SNEWS® Training Center article brought to you by SNEWS® and TrainActive/Tom Richard Sales Education
You are NEVER entitled to a sale – no matter how much time and energy you have invested into it. As a professional salesperson, the store you work for -- and you, if you are working on a commissioned basis -- are only compensated when you successfully deliver value to your customer. It is YOUR job to convince the customer that your company and product are worth their business. The customer owes you NOTHING.
Sales aren’t lost when buyers don’t fully explain what they really need; sales are lost when the salesperson fails to ask intelligent, engaging questions to discover what the customer needs and then finds ways to communicate the value of what he or she has to offer that will meet or exceed the expectations of those needs.
Instead of blaming customers and whining over lost sales – blaming the Internet or discount stores are classic excuses -- take responsibility and make some changes! You could get the sales you want if you learned how to ask smart questions that identify your customers' needs and help you connect with your customers on a personal level. If you don’t understand why your customers are really buying, how can you present them with the answers and solutions they are looking for?
What makes a great question?
Get over your belief that customers need to be educated. Buyers don’t want to be educated; they want answers and solutions. Your questions should allow your customers to educate YOU on why they are in your store to buy.
Asking limiting questions like “What color of "X" are you looking for?” will lead to responses that are just as limited. A great, intelligent question is one that is followed by a pause. It makes the buyer stop and think before answering. hese types of questions let the customer answer on their own terms, instead of yours, and will reveal their motivation for buying.
Smart questions also separate you from your competition. It makes your buyers say, “Wow, nobody has ever asked me that before!” Unique, thought-provoking questions give your customers a great reason to respect you. When customers respect you and your sales practices, they’ll be more truthful, giving you insight into the determining factors that will lead to the sale. And it is more likely they will then buy from you, rather than from another store or from the Internet.
Ultimately, a great question helps you understand and connect with your customers. It helps you discover your customers’ true motives so that you can find the perfect solution for them. Finally, it saves you from the frustration and misunderstanding that comes from a lost sale.
How do your questions rate?
Write down the questions that you typically ask your prospective buyers. Do they accomplish the objectives of a great question?
Ask yourself if they:
- Get a response beyond a simple “yes” or “no” answer?
- Make the buyer seriously think before responding?
- Help you better understand your buyer’s current needs?
- Uncover your buyer’s past problems and past successes?
- Reveal the wants, needs, dreams and passions of your customer?
- Uncover the buyer’s real feelings, the emotional reasons for his or her prospective purchase?
- Elicit truths and motives?
- Separate you from your competition?
With the right questions, you can understand your customers’ motives and create an atmosphere of service and value that is unmatched by your competition.
Tom Richard is the President of Tom Richard Marketing and specializes in both marketing and sales education. Visit his website at www.tomrichard.com.